Tuesday 23 February 2016

Postiljonen - Reverie

Postiljonen - Reverie

It’s fitting that M83 named their seminal 2008 album ‘Saturdays = Youth’. There’s just something youthful about that 80s synth sound – teenagers dreaming of love, life and possibilities; emotional melodrama told through a futuristic filter of space age sounds and beats.

It may seem unfair to bring up M83 in a review of Sweden’s Postiljonen and their second album, but the comparison is almost inescapable. That combination of sweeping synth pads, 80s pop hooks, breathless vocals and saxophone codas applies equally to both bands. It’s also a comparison levelled at the Swede’s for their debut album, 2013’s ‘Skyer’, and since then their sound hasn’t radically developed. ‘Reverie’ brings more of the same – both within the band’s overall output, and within itself.

Yet when Postiljonen are so good at what they do, it’s easy to forgive – and to forget their influences. ‘Reverie’ may be a glaringly obvious title to the point of banality, but their music is anything but. Consistently across the album they deliver lushly textured songs, gently pulsing, layering vocal harmonies and delicate computerised touches towards soaring climactic guitar and saxophone lines, repeating lyrics like mantras (Wait’s “if I give my heart away you will only start a fire”). On Blood Flow, singer Mia Bøe explores conflicted feelings of love over clashing percussion and a mournful synth sax line: “you’re the only one who keeps my blood flowing right, but my heart doesn’t feel like yours”. It's youthful dreaming at its finest.

There is, however, a point of differentiation with Postiljonen – their Scandi heritage. Bøe is Norwegian, whilst fellow band members Joel Nostrum Holm and Daniel Sjörs are Swedish, lending an inherent Scandi feel to their sound. There’s a cold iciness to the synths, the vocals reverbed like Nordic incantations faintly heard on the breeze of blustery winds blowing over glacial fjords. There’s a genuine sense of Romanticism to the album, a loftiness as the band look to the heavens but remain tied to the earthiness of their home.

And in a modern sense, the band have a predilection for pop hooks, bouncy rhythms and electronic production that’s so prevalent in Scandi-pop. Go! features a shouted hook before lurching into glittery synths and a more upbeat tempo, whilst L.I.E juxtaposes pop production with Bøe lamenting “lovin’ isn’t easy, I keep finding you in someone else’s arms”. Perhaps best of all, though, is You’re Ace – a track that proves it’s not all melancholy. Its buoyant rhythms, choppy samples and wailing guitars all reflect the joy of the lyrics, Bøe singing “I wanna waste time with you baby, listen up!” with a cheeky wink.

As its title implies, then, ‘Reverie’ is the perfect album with which to drift away, to lament, to dream. The influences may be clear, but the band do just enough to carve out a unique sound that’s undeniably affecting.


Gizzle’s Choice:
* Go
* Blood Flow
* You’re Ace

Listen: ‘Reverie’ is available now. 

Monday 22 February 2016

Jack Garratt - Phase

Jack Garratt - Phase

“Boring” they said. “Just like James Bay” they said. Really? Are the critics listening to the same Jack Garratt?

It’s understandable to come to that “boring” conclusion listening to just the singles: Breathe Life, Weathered and Worry are Garratt at his most radio friendly, with typical pop structures and catchy chorus hooks. Yet even Garratt at his most basic is less basic than the peers he’s recently unfavourably been compared with. Worry especially is a visceral depiction of post-breakup feelings (“don’t you worry ‘bout it”), lurching from its pensive verse to a self-assured, stomping chorus. It’s a decent, if unremarkable, pop song, as if he suddenly realised he needed a recognisable song to break into the mainstream.

Listening to ‘Phase’ though, Garratt’s debut album, the obvious comparison is with James Blake. Garratt’s sound is far more experimental than his singles would have you believe. Jazz, soul, dubstep and electronica all mingle within minimalist structures, as looped samples blend with processed beats and live guitar. Over the top, Garratt’s vocal oscillates between a cooing falsetto and a rough yet soulful rock tone. It’s quite the concoction, proving that amidst all the comparisons, Garratt is his own man doing his own thing, disregarding influences and genres for something more unique, even if the end result heavily leans in Blake’s direction.

The second half of the album especially delves into weird territory – and is all the better for it. The Love You’re Given is the album’s lengthiest track that epitomises his varying styles, though he’s often best at his most introverted. I Know All What I Do begins as a simple folk tune sung over pedal, before the production slowly layers with harmonies and scuzzy effects; Surprise Yourself contrasts a high falsetto with deep pulsating sub-bass, eventually launching into a final chorus of space age synths and acoustic guitar. And on Chemical and Fire, he pushes his own boundaries towards the electronic end of his spectrum, all womping basslines and skittering beats that make those pop singles a distant memory. Most arresting of all is that the album ends with a piano ballad, where Garratt’s yearning vocal surges with emotional fire.

‘Phase’, then, is consistent in its inconsistency. It straddles the line between mainstream and experimental and likely won’t please both camps, though when the two styles merge Garratt truly  proves the hype around his music.

There’s a bigger issue, however. Garratt is a multi-instrumentalist and it’s in live shows where his talents really lie, working like an octopus between keys, sample mixing, guitars and vocals. It certainly puts Ed Sheeran’s loop pedal to shame. Yet that’s almost impossible to capture on a recording. ‘Phase’ is slickly produced and doesn’t quite recreate the raw intensity of his live shows. As enjoyable as the album is, watching Garratt perform is the true way to experience his music. In that sense, with the way the music industry is leaning so heavily on live music at present, perhaps Garratt really is the sound of 2016.


Gizzle’s Choice:
* The Love You’re Given
* I Know All What I do
* Surprise Yourself

Listen: ‘Phase’ is available now.

Thursday 18 February 2016

A Steady Rain @ The Arcola Theatre

A Steady Rain @ The Arcola Theatre

Having written episodes for TV shows like Mad Men, House of Cards and American Crime, you’d expect Keith Huff to be a dab hand when it comes to crime drama. It turns out, you’d be expecting too much.

The problem is, the narrative of A Steady Rain (first performed on Broadway in 2009 by Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig) just doesn’t translate to the stage. Set in present day Chicago, it follows two cops – one good, one bad; one alcoholic, one racist; one who cheats on his wife, the other who falls for the wife – as the weight of responsibility pushes their friendship to the limits. Too frequently it borders on pastiche and falls prey to the usual noir tropes: a femme fatale, corrupt cops taking the law into their own hands, the titular rain pattering away in the background, and endless monologues.

And boy are those monologues endless. Huff’s main error is telling, rather than showing, the details of the plot. There are moments of genuine excitement here, with tense shootouts, cars speeding down highways, passionate lovemaking and relationships fracturing through arguments. Yet we never see any of it. You get the sense that Huff is thinking cinematically, but watching this play feels more like listening to an audiobook version of a noir film. The dialogue is relentless and it takes some time to tune into its pacey rhythm, even if it never quite generates enough forward momentum.

That said, there’s a genuinely gripping story underneath it all. It might be based on cliché and stereotypes and is for the most part fairly predictable, but it’s a story you’ll want to follow through to its conclusion. Vincent Regan excels as the gruff Denny whose brash arrogance causes his family to slip through his fingers like raindrops, whilst David Schaal’s Joey is a calming and sympathetic stage presence. The writing may not offer much nuance, but the actors certainly do their best to bring this story off the page.

Ed Ullyart’s set design and Simon Bedwell’s lighting also provide plenty of melancholic moody style, the monochromatic colour scheme and stark lighting creating a modern noir ambience that suits the intimacy of the space. And when that steady rain does eventually fall at the back of the stage in the play’s climactic moments, it is quite chilling.


Watch: A Steady Rain runs at the Arcola Theatre until 5th March.

A Steady Rain @ The Arcola Theatre

A Steady Rain @ The Arcola Theatre
Photos: Nick Rutter

Thursday 11 February 2016

Spotlight (2016) - Tom McCarthy

Spotlight (2016) - Tom McCarthy

As a medium, cinema is multi-faceted, capable of layering visuals, sound, performances, editing and special effects. Often it leads to flashy, stylised films that catch our attention through creativity. It’s why last year’s Oscar winning best film was Birdman, and why this year the nominees include the likes of Mad Max: Fury Road and The Big Short.

Sometimes, though, you just have to point and shoot.

Of course, it’s not quite that simple, but with Spotlight director Tom McCarthy makes filmmaking look easy. There are no swooping camera shots, no sudden edits, no CGI extravagance. The camera is still, the editing calm and Howard Shore’s beautifully plaintive piano-based score lilts quietly in the background. This is hushed, reverent filmmaking made purely to serve the narrative.

And when that narrative focuses on the church, the reverence is all the more fitting. Based on fact, the film depicts a small team of investigative journalists (Spotlight) who worked at the Boston Globe newspaper in the early 00s to uncover child sex abuse in the Catholic church. What begins as an investigation into one priest soon develops into a widespread crisis not just in Boston, but across the whole of America (and eventually the globe) as the team essentially accuse the whole Catholic system of covering up the truth and magnitude of the scandal.

The quiet tone of the film draws attention to the unfurling plot that’s expertly paced in Josh Singer and McCarthy’s screenplay. It might be slow, but it’s never less than thoroughly gripping, gradually drawing us in to its conclusion. It’s a provocative and often shocking subject matter that’s all the more pronounced for its unfussy production. And in that manner, the smallest moments have a huge impact: a children’s choir singing, or an old woman reading the finished newspaper story. There are no words here and the camera doesn’t linger – it’s just subtle enough that we understand the layers of meaning.

The film also works as a fascinating exploration of life as a journalist. We follow the team on each stage of their investigation, from initial research, to tough interviews, conflicts in editorial meetings, and finally the thrill of writing the story. Over time, their passion for the subject is overwhelming and it all becomes too personal for the team. It’s Mark Ruffalo’s twitching, restless Mike Rezendes who shows the most passion of all, which is probably why he’s been singled out for a best supporting actor nomination. Rachel McAdams (nominated for best supporting actress) also holds her own as Sacha Pfeiffer – the only female journalist in a male dominated world – but this really is an ensemble performance. Making the film is as much a team effort as the investigation itself, and with its quiet confidence this eye-opening story could well take Oscar victory.


Watch: Spotlight is out now.

Tuesday 9 February 2016

5 Guys Chillin' @ The King's Head Theatre

5 Guys Chillin' @ The King's Head Theatre

Chemsex. Group sex on drugs. Chill-outs. On paper, the appeal is almost understandable. It’s a dark yet romanticised hedonistic fantasy, a chance to relinquish inhibitions, to writhe around with countless other bodies in highly stimulated erotic ecstasy.

Yet the reality, as 5 Guys Chillin’ portrays, is very different. In fact, there isn’t much sex at all. Five guys who meet online arrive at a chill-out, immediately strip off to their underwear and proceed to take a startling cocktail of drugs, whilst discussing their sex lives in horrifyingly unabashed fashion. When sex does arrive at the end, it’s a dirty and shameful act that nobody in the room wishes to be part of – at least, not of their own free will.

What kind of person would choose to attend these chill-outs? It’s a question that writer Peter Darney explores subtly, without being heavy-handed. Initially it’s all fun and games and flirting and laughter. But as the drugs hit, the five guys talk more and more openly with each other about their lives, their inner pain and turmoil slowly unfurling. One is married with a small child, forced to indulge his true sexuality in the dark underground scene. Another worries that he’s unable to connect with another man without the use of drugs. And two are in a polyamorous relationship, but the longing looks of jealousy across the room suggest they’re not as happy as they seem. For all their initial confidence and bravado, these are damaged individuals self-destructing, deep psychological issues manifesting in an insatiable addiction to sex, drugs and false intimacy. It’s telling, too, that none are given names – this is about anonymous sex, not a personal connection, even if the latter is ultimately what they truly crave.

Darney’s script is provocative, daring and unflinching. Perhaps most shocking of all the sexual tales is the whole group’s laissez-faire attitude towards contraception and STIs. Nearly all have had some contact, be it with HIV or a particularly gruesome account of Gonorrhea. The sheer irresponsibility of essentially collecting STIs makes for truly uncomfortable, harrowing viewing. The party host even comments that he refuses to provide condoms due to their expense, but he’s more than willing to offer a whole menu’s worth of drugs instead.

What makes the play so powerful, haunting and urgent, though, is that Darney’s script is verbatim, taken from actual interviews on popular gay app Grindr. There may be an element of embellishment for dramatic effect, but for the most part this stuff is actually happening right now. In just seventy minutes, he pools together a whole host of stories to create a brutally frank and terrifying vision of gay sex, played out by a brave and committed ensemble cast. Drugs have played a part in gay culture for years, but chemsex is perhaps its most alarming manifestation yet – a major crisis the gay community must face up to.

The overwhelming emotion of watching 5 Guys Chillin’, though, is a deep sadness. “It’s hard to have a monogamous relationship in London” says one guy, but whether that’s with another human or with drugs is difficult to tell.


Watch: 5 Guys Chillin' runs at the King's Head Theatre until 27th February.

5 Guys Chillin' @ The King's Head Theatre

5 Guys Chillin' @ The King's Head Theatre
Photos: Kasia Burke

Monday 8 February 2016

Foxes - All I Need

Foxes - All I Need

Look, not every popstar has to be a Beyoncé or a Rihanna: powerhouse superstars with outspoken views and long-awaited bangers, who turn each release into an event. Yet releasing her second album within a week of both of these artists also releasing new material, quiet little mouse Foxes all but flatlines.

It’s been nearly three years since she broke through with a feature on Zedd’s Clarity (and four years since the release of her debut EP ‘Youth’), but what do we really know about Foxes? Sure a quick look on her Wikipedia page tells us that Louisa Allen is 26, from Southampton and chose the name Foxes after a dream her mother had. But what is she trying to achieve with her music? What is her style? What is her USP?

That’s not to say that every popstar should be pigeon holed or reduced to an easily digestible, business-like tick box. For many, genre-hopping is a great strength. Foxes, though, seems to have lost her strength. Her debut album, 2014’s ‘Glorious’ was a great pop album, pairing anthemic choruses with a dark, synthy edge. Much of that has disappeared with ‘All I Need’, an album that withers and shrivels after repeated listening.

It’s especially disappointing, not only after that debut, but because there are flashes of brilliance here. Body Talk is surely one of the best songs Allen has written, with its 80s synth stabs, “la la la” hook, and simple yet effective lyrics about getting over a break-up (“days like these, I just want you back”). It’s vibrant and exciting pop at its finest and, alongside other singles Better Love and Amazing, prove that Allen has a talent for writing bold and catchy little nuggets of hooks. Too often, though, these nuggets are simply repeated for the whole chorus (and usually provide the song title) for better or for worse. On Better Love, for instance, the repeated “show me a better love” gives a sense of yearning desperation, whilst Wicked Love is absolutely irritating and Money has an utterly forced message.

Allen’s failure is in being able to string out these nuggets, not only into three minute songs but across a whole album. If You Leave Me Now, for instance, should be a moving ballad, but despite an emotional vocal the song just lumbers on. And after some early promise – the aforementioned Body Talk and the dance bloops of Cruel - the whole second half of the album just drifts by without making any impact. It’s only when the beat kicks in on Shoot Me Down and Lose My Cool that any interest picks up, but these tracks are relegated to the deluxe version only.

Foxes strikes as one of those nice, pleasant popstars with a genuine talent who deserves to do well. But is nice and pleasant really what you want from a popstar? It’s sad to admit, but ‘All I Need’, with its non-descript production and lack of personality, commits the worst of all pop sins: it’s boring.


Gizzle’s Choice:
* Body Talk
* Cruel
* Amazing

Listen: ‘All I Need’ is available now.

Thursday 4 February 2016

St. Lucia - Matter

St Lucia - Matter

It was basically a crime that St. Lucia’s first album, ‘When The Night’, didn’t receive a worldwide release back in 2013. Its bright, sunny, tropical pop was perfect for the summer, but alas it wasn’t meant to be.

Now it’s finally available over here, and just in time for the release of its follow up, ‘Matter’ – an album that swaps the relaxed synth vibes for a boisterous, 80s sound. Synth stabs, heavy beats and glittery effects all feature heavily. It’s like the best bits of Chvrches, Passion Pit and M83 thrown together.

That certainly rings true on the album’s extended centrepiece, Rescue Me. It’s six and a half minutes of pulsing synth basslines and hypnotic rhythms that owes a great debt to the likes of Pet Shop Boys and Frankie Goes To Hollywood. It’s more focused than much of the album, though it does border on pastiche.

The album is at its best when St. Lucia, a.k.a South African born Brooklyn-based Jean-Philip Grobler, throws everything to the wind, resulting in a bombastic display of kitchen sink dramatic production. Each track is thickly textured with layers of electronic effects, bold melodies and bursts of neon vibrancy. It’s impossible to resist. Lead single Dancing On Glass is like a more uplifting take on M83’s Midnight City, the frenetic Physical will have your feet moving and your head in a spin, The Winds Of Change gradually crescendos part by part towards a glorious chorus, and Help Me Run Away is part giddy dance track part migration anthem.

It’s a frantic, relentless and dizzying concoction that only slows on Love Somebody, a gentle electro-R&B track of yearning melodies (“I wanna love someone, I wanna love somebody”) and a smattering of tropical oriental flavours. It’s a rare moment of calm, but proves that much of Grobler’s music is underpinned by genuine emotion. Closing track Always pairs a lurching beat with the weight of a breakup, it’s chorus full of longing with its repeated “Baby I’ll remember you”.

‘Matter’ is the sort of album that blasts you full force into submission. Yet Grobler is clearly a master of hooks, pairing bombastic production with underlying sensitivity. He’s a pop force to be reckoned with.


Gizzle’s Choice:
* Dancing On Glass
* Love Somebody
* Help Me Run Away

Listen: ‘Matter’ is out now.

The Big Short (2016) - Adam McKay

The Big Short (2016) - Adam McKay

I’ve never been one to have an affinity with maths. Numbers just don’t tend to make much sense in my head. And economics? Clueless. I, like the joyful people in this film’s multiple montages, spent the years leading up to the financial crisis of the 00s enjoying life and culture, blissfully unaware of the events to come.

The Big Short does its best to sex up what is, essentially, an incredible dry subject matter. It follows a group of zany, over the top characters embodying various Wall Street stereotypes as they (somehow, because numbers) predict the crash of the housing market that caused the economy to crash. Seeking to profit from this, they bet against the economy and make millions. Yet the main protagonists are (shock horror!) banking types with a heart, who agonise over the consequences of the crash for the population at large, whilst they benefit immensely.

It’s not the most exciting set up, but director Adam McKay delivers the story with stylish flair. There are fast-paced montages to spur the story on. There’s a funk score that gives the feel of a 70s con film. The fourth wall is smashed, drawing us into this corrupt world. There are pithy, brash and eccentric monologues, particularly from Ryan Gosling’s Jared Vennett who is something of a narrator. And there are hilariously played asides from the likes of Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez (as themselves) who attempt to debunk the economic jargon for us poor helpless viewers. It’s almost cartoon-like in its colourful boldness, matched by some exaggerated performances, and a dizzyingly restless camera that will have your head spinning almost as much as the maths.

Yet The Big Short sits somewhere awkwardly between comedy and education. For all the flashy cinematography striving to be the next Wolf Of Wall Street, this is ultimately a film about numbers. Some go up. Some go down. And you won’t always know why or how.

The film does try to humanise the impact of the economic crash, grounding events to a consumable level for us mere mortals without being too patronising. Steve Carell gives a surprisingly moving performance as Mark Baum who represents the moral ambiguity at play – a man making millions off the misfortunes of others. The film only hints at the full impact of the crisis, but perhaps it doesn’t need to show it, after all most of us who see the film are living through it right now. In that sense, the film is a call to arms that will shock and anger many viewers with its reveal of the truth.

Still, those numbers tick away in the background, on mobile screens, on computer screens. And by the end of the film, you’ll have a better sense of economics, but have you really been entertained? With little action besides a lot of frantic conversations, The Big Short is a hard film to invest in.


Watch: The Big Short is out now.

Tuesday 2 February 2016

Room (2016) - Lenny Abrahamson

Room (2016) - Lenny Abrahamson

The less you know about Room before you watch, the more you’ll enjoy it. It’s a film that depends on its big reveal. But to not mention it wouldn’t make for a very interesting review – consider this your spoiler warning.

It’s the juxtaposition of the film’s two narrative halves that makes it such a success. We begin inside the titular room, almost voyeuristically spying on the lives of Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his Ma (Brie Larson). Where Emma Donoghue’s novel – on which the film is based – tells its story purely from the juvenile, naïve perspective of Jack, here the film takes a broader approach. Extreme close ups and a lack of light create a sense of claustrophobia for both characters: for Jack this one room is the only world he’s ever known, for Ma it’s a torture full of unbearable frustration. Voiceovers from Jack suggest a confidence in his surroundings, but that soon changes. In what is one of the darkest and most desperate decisions in cinema (and literature), Ma persuades Jack to play dead so that their captor Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) will remove him, allowing an escape.

That escape is a real Wizard of Oz moment. Jack looks out at the world, overwhelmed. Wide angled shots give a sudden sense of space and colour and he turns immediately from bratty kid to almost mute. You’ll find yourself willing him to divulge information to the police as tension grows in the build up to Ma’s rescue. The sense of relief is palpable.

And that is essentially it. It’s both a blessing and a curse that the film’s climax comes about a third of the way in. Not much else happens and you find yourself questioning “what now?”.

That, though, is the whole point. What now? Room isn’t a film about kidnapping; indeed besides a brief explanation we never find out too much about Ma’s capture or Old Nick’s reasoning. Instead, this is a film about overcoming trauma, looking to the future and not dwelling on the past. After experiencing such a horrific event, having your life back is a gift – but what would you do with it?

That’s why Room is such a life-affirming film. Sometimes we need to take a step back and view things with clarity through the simplified, innocent lens of a child – and that’s exactly what director Lenny Abrahamson gives us. Through low angles we see the world as Jack does, where tiny moments have huge impact. As with the delicate score from Stephen Rennicks, the film offers minimal storytelling with maximum effect: the room could be a metaphor for any sort of grief or trauma and with the film being so vast and spacious, it’s up to us to fill in the blanks with our own meaning. Room, then, becomes an extremely personal film.

It also focuses down on the central performances. Sure, Tremblay is adorable as Jack, but it’s Larson who gives a truly remarkable performance. Ma is such a complex character, a volatile mix of frustration, sadness, depression, strength, and love for her son. Where Jack proves resilient to his surroundings, Ma agonises over her ability as a mother. Larson’s emotionally charged performance expertly guides us through the film – without it, Room wouldn’t be such a cathartic release.


Watch: Room is out now.

Monday 1 February 2016

Sia - This Is Acting

Sia - This Is Acting

Pipe down Sia. You had your moment.

In fact, she’s had several moments, albeit largely writing for others. Last year’s ‘1000 Forms Of Fear’ marked the moment that Sia finally became a fully-fledged popstar in her own right, bringing her huge success with the cataclysmic Chandelier. Stretching that into another album, though, is a step too far.

Of course, songwriting is tough business. For every hit, there are hundreds of rejected songs cast aside. For many, that’s where they should stay. But when ‘This Is Acting’ consists of songs rejected by other artists, you have to ask: why? Why were they rejected? And why release them?

The simplest pleasure from ‘This Is Acting’ is playing ‘guess the popstar’. It’s well documented that Alive, for instance, was written with Adele in mind (she even has a writing credit) and her voice certainly could’ve leant some needed weight to the belted chorus. Elsewhere the Latino dance rhythms of Move Your Body were probably written for Shakira; the laidback feel of Reaper and the reggae beats of Cheap Thrills are clearly aimed at Rihanna; and only Beyoncé could pull off power ballad Footprints. Listening through is a bit like a musical puzzle.

It also provides some insight into the workings of Sia as a songwriter. Dealing strictly with pop structures, it’s easy to pick out key Sia tropes: from the soaring melodies, to the repeated lyrical earworms, the chorus reprise with reduced production, and the general sense of melodrama. Sia’s not known for her subtlety and ‘This Is Acting’ is as relentless as you’d expect. The problem is that her formula gets tired quickly. Nestled amongst other songs, a Sia banger can do wonders for a popstar, but a whole album’s worth becomes overly repetitive. This is common denominator manufactured pop that spans an awkward line between Sia’s distinct characteristics and the personalities of other artists. The title really is apt. And where Sia keeps bringing the same sorts of songs, it's understandable that popstars would want something fresh and novel instead.

The other major issue is Sia’s grating vocal. “I’ll shout it out like a bird set free”, she squawks on the opening track and that continues throughout the album. Alternating between mumbling and shouting, her voice cracks painfully on the higher notes of Alive (this is probably for purposeful, ironic effect on the lines “I’m still breathing”), it has a weird vibrato thing on One Million Bullets, and on the whole is as likeable as marmite.

With Sweet Design, she finally breaks the mould with a choppy hip-hop track that references Sisqo’s Thong Song. It’s out of character for her, but finally brings something a little different, proving what Sia can achieve when she steps out of her box. Yet that happens too infrequently, leaving us with an album that confirms you can have too much of a good thing. Sia’s moment has passed, so let’s leave her swinging from the chandelier where she belongs.


Gizzle’s Choice:
* Alive
* Move Your Body
* Sweet Design

Listen: ‘This Is Acting’ is out now.